MY open letter to the world

Forget money, I just want to do good.

Believe it or not, I was one of those child computer prodigy’s back in the late 90’s. I graduated high school at 14, was the youngest person to ever attend my local community college at 14 and 1/2, and was enrolled in mathematics courses at Stanford University’s Educational Program for Gifted Youth at 15. I moved away from my family home two weeks after I turned 16 and flew down away from everything I cherished to work in Orange County, California for the next 17 years.

I’ve always tried to be as self-sufficient and independent as possible, and not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just the way I was taught men were supposed to be when I was a kid. And, I truly believe my parents raised me right and I owe them everything, especially since they were smart enough to get me a computer right around the time when free AOL dial-up CD’s were just taking off. It really is thanks to their simple, slower way of living that I was fortunate enough to live out in the middle of some majestic mountains with hardly anything better to do than spend all day, every day, on the computer connected to “the internet”. I would finish my homework on the hour bus ride and immediately get on the computer when I got home. You don’t even want to know how much our largest surprise phone bill cost.

Anyways, I was reading, researching, applying, tweaking, sharing, and developing new and improved ways to do just about anything right from the age that pre-teens really begin to blossom. Little did I know, I’d rely on the skills I developed as a child for the next 20 years, in and out of high-profile jobs and companies, seemingly making everyone around me rich but myself. “You don’t get rich working for someone else” my father always said, and sure enough, he was right. At 33 years old, I was making great money with a full-time salaried remote position with benefits, I had a wife of 16 years that I had an incredible 5 year old son and another one on the way with, I was driving my dream muscle car while my wife drove her dream BMW, I owned several businesses, and we both had plenty of friends and family. Yet, I was still not happy. So, when I filed for divorce at 33 years old and subsequently watched as just about everything went wrong over the next year and a half, I saw myself losing all hope as just about everything I once thought was important to me was gone or out of reach.

Then something happened. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I became heated and I started to dust myself off and ask some very important questions. Why am I so unhappy? Why is everything going wrong in my life? I realized that my purpose in life was all wrong. I was dead set on making money using my skillset but didn’t really pay much attention to what I was actually building with my time, and who for. I lacked Ikiagi, which a Japanese term that means “a reason for being”. I stumbled across a Venn diagram that I’ll share below which really explains the concept well. With this, I realized that I had been defining success wrong my entire life. Success to me always meant money. And well, success to many people means that. But, deep down we all know that doesn’t really matter, and “money can’t buy happiness” right? Well, I’m here to tell you that it can, because money can buy an ATV and I’ve never seen anyone unhappy while riding around on an ATV but, the point is that money shouldn’t be your primary focus on life. Doing good should be. And one day very recently this whole concept just clicked for me and I’ve already gained a new perspective on life.

It seems like only yesterday that I lost my wife, my house, my kids, my job, my family, my friends, and my childhood home in a fire, and in a way it was very recent, but the past can’t be changed, only the future. And, some amazing things have come my way since then. If we all just breathe and focus on the present, maybe we can slow down from our busy lives long enough to put our heads together and start developing solutions to truly better the world. Look, I don’t have all of the answers, but I do have time, skill, energy, and an unrelenting will to do good. Sooner or later, someone with the power to help us in a big way will take notice. And maybe this new approach and life goal will help accelerate things. So, please, join me in doing good for the world by reaching out and lending a hand in anyway you can (ideas, time, money, materials, connections, etc.). Myself and many close friends, family members, and co-workers are coming together to start a new company tentatively called UNI Investments. Pronounced You-And-I, as in you and I should invest in each other and in making the world a better place. And, the slogan is simple. “Do good”. We have so many ideas going right now, but adding them to this site will be a slow process. So, we will be creating a list very soon and adding it to our own company page, so please bookmark https://uniinvestments.com add it to your calendar to check back in a month or so.

At 35 years old, I feel like I’m starting with a clean slate and I have even found love again with an amazing woman that compliments me in every way. What’s even more incredible is that we have a happy and healthy 6 month old son named Elijah together and we’ve nicknamed him “Moose” because he was almost 10 pounds at birth and now weighs over 21 at just a half a year old! My other two amazing sons, Koden (age 7) and Conor (age 1-1/2), come up every summer for a couple months and have the time of their lives playing outdoors like I used to do when I was a kid. Maybe someday I’ll be able to get them more often, or even to live with me full time (wouldn’t that be something!) but for now this is all I get and I’m tickled pink with every second of it.

This is a long introduction, but if there is anything you should know about me, it’s that I like to think different because I am different. And, so are you. So let’s take the best of both of us and do some good with it, right? I am finally beginning to feel alive for the very first time and with this renewed energy I want to set out on a mission to once-and-for-all put an end to human suffering. It’s a lofty goal, but we have 7 and 1/2 billion people on the planet and hardly any of them are living a good life. We complain about the 1% but if we live in any first-world country we forget that we are the 1%. We can put an end to war and tyranny, we can get children (and any human for that matter) out of the sweat shops and slavery and into a great educational system, we can provide clean water and adequate food to those in need across the world, we can build infrastructure for the poorest of nations, and we can truly inspire change throughout the world… and it’s much easier than you think. But, we need to work together, and we need to start right now. All I’m asking is that you take a moment and click the link below to reach out and say hello. Who knows where that decision might take us. Thank you so much.

Sincerely,

Doug Kulak
Co-founder & CEO
UNI Investments, Inc
https://uniinvestments.com (coming soon)


Ikiagi


MY CURRENT TECHNOLOGY SKILLSET

I can do a lot more than just development, but as you can see, I have the technology side pretty much covered.

FRONTEND

React, Redux, Vue, Vuex, Angular

HTML5, CSS3, SCSS/Css-in-JS/JSS

ES6, ESLint, Flow, Babel, Webpack

Preact, Next, Nuxt, Vanilla JS

Bulma, Beufy, Bootstrap, Material Design

 Flexbox, CSS Grid, Vanilla CSS

Browserify, Jade, Handlebars

Yarn, NPM, Bower, Gulp/Grunt

Jest, TestCafé, Jasmine, Selenium

IntelliJ IDEA, Sublime Text

 

BACKEND

Next, Nuxt, Ember

Laravel, CakePHP, Drupal, Wordpress

C#, ASP.NET, MVC, Web API

Umbraco, Sitecore, SmartCMS

OpenCart, Magento, BigCommerce

Java, Scala, Play Framework

REST, XML, JSON, SOAP

MySQL, MSSQL, MongoDB, GraphQL

Service Oriented Architecture

JetBrains Rider, Visual Studio

 

INFRASTRUCTURE

AWS EC2, S3, EBS, ELB

IAM, Route 53, SES, SQS

Azure, DigitalOcean, Linode, Heroku

VMWare ESXi, Hyper-V

Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, CentOS

Apache, Nginx, IIS, Express

Git, Subversion, TFS, Perforce

JIRA, Trello, Confluence, Bamboo

NewRelic, Alert Logic IDS/WAF

Custom Mac Pro Systems

THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT I’M YOUR MAN WHEN YOU NEED SOMEONE END-TO-END

Conceive > Discover > Strategize > Architect > Design > Develop > Test > QA > Release > Support > Lead > Manage > Grow

 

A truly energizing project

While working for Orange County, CA based digital marketing agency, Rhythm, Doug Kulak assembled and lead a team of developers to build and launch one of General Electric's first responsive websites. After assembling the team and choosing CakePHP as our backend framework, Doug architected and developed the application and data layers while leading and assisting a small team of front-end developers through several tricky IE8 issues. Needless to say, we delivered a successful launch to one very happy client. 

Built with CakePHP, jQuery, Modernizr, Selectivizr, RespondJS, Zurb Foundation, HTML5, CSS, Google Spreadsheets, Google Analytics

 

Where luxury meets technology

While working for Orange County, CA-based digital marketing agency, Rhythm, Doug Kulak lead and worked alongside a team to develop a fully responsive website for The Irvine Company's retail division, powered by the open-source ASP.NET CMS Umbraco and AngularJS. Rhythm's Senior Art Director, Chris Guadarrama, created a truly stunning and responsive design that we modularized with a flexible widget system, allowing The Irvine Company to extend and enhance the site in just about any way imaginable. The launch was one of the smoothest The Irvine Company had seen and they had nothing but great things to say about us and their new website. 

Built with ASP.NET, C#, Umbraco CMS, Bootstrap SASS, AngularJS, jQuery, HTML5, CSS3, Hangfire, Pivotal, Google Tag Manager

 

New digital leaders in the self-storage space 

While working for Orange County, CA-based digital marketing agency, Rhythm, Doug Kulak assembled and lead a team of developers to launch SmartStop's first responsive and mobile-first website. The site immediately propelled SmartStop's online experience to the top of the list within the industry, outshining competitor's sites that had fallen behind with the times. We built the site on top of a custom CakePHP CMS we had written, which was heavily inspired by the flexibility of the open source ASP.NET CMS, Umbraco. The site launch was a huge success and we went on to do a lot more business with them.

Built with CakePHP, Custom CMS, Bootstrap SASS, Modernizr, jQuery, AngularJS, HTML5, CSS3, Google Tag Manager

 

Delivering the recipe for success

While working for Orange County, CA-based digital marketing agency, Rhythm, Doug Kulak architected and developed Bimbo Bakeries' first responsive website with Drupal. The site showcases their products and features them in a variety of beautifully photographed recipes, enticing visitors to recreate them at home. The launch was a huge success and the site became an example of how all of Bimbo's brand websites should be. 

Built with PHP, Drupal 7, Zen, jQuery, Selectivizr, HTML5, CSS3